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IMAX THEATER: Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure (NR) The greatest survival story of the 20th century lends itself to IMAX treatment. Kevin Spacey narrates Sir Ernest Shackleton's attempt to cross Antarctica by dogsled without his usual sarcasm but without overselling it either. The visuals combine Frank Hurley's original photographs and film footage, which retain amazing clarity, with recreations of the original expedition. Through Dec. 6. Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey (NR) This world music sampler with the emphasis on percussion was filmed on five continents by the creators of the stage musical Stomp. The Stomp cast is augmented by a dozen acts representing the sounds that have influenced them, performing for about two minutes each. For all the time, money and effort involved the result should have been better. Through Feb. 6. Fernbank Museum of Natural History IMAX Theater, 767 Clifton Road. 404-929-6300. www.fernbank.edu. --SW
IN THE CUT (R) An English professor (Meg Ryan) put off by the emotional messiness of sex grows attracted to a cocky, sleazy homicide detective (Mark Ruffalo) investigating the grisly murders of women. Jane Campion's adaptation of Susannah Moore's book gets points for its bedroom frankness, and loses them for its thudding themes that sex, men and marriage are all bad. The film proves rather effective as a unsettling, paranoia-inducing mood piece, but Ryan works so hard against her lightweight image that she never makes pleasure seem very pleasurable. --CH
KILL BILL VOLUME 1 (R) Quentin Tarantino's geek side returns with a vengeance in the first half of his loving yet overblown salute to kung fu movies and other cult revenge flicks. A blonde assassin (Uma Thurman) tracks down the former colleagues who betrayed her, and while Tarantino strives for the grandiosity of Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, he undercuts himself with ironic jokes closer to McG's Charlie's Angels. It's up to Uma to carry the film -- and she does, conveying a toughness oddly comparable to Lee Marvin. Volume 2 is due in February. --CH
LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION (PG) Joe Dante's comedy drags Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and their cartoon cohorts into the 21st century. The film places the animated characters in real-world settings alongside the likes of Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman and Steve Martin as the evil head of the Acme company.
LOVE ACTUALLY (R) Love is all around in this British Love Boat (on dry land) that makes a case for the ubiquity of pop music. In the five weeks leading up to Christmas, dozens of characters initiate, maintain or break off relationships of a romantic, sexual, familial or platonic nature. Excellent casting makes each person stand out, whether the actor is familiar (Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson) or not (Heike Makatsch, Andrew Lincoln). Richard Curtis, the witty writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral, makes his directing debut with a commercial movie that gives commercial movies a good name. --SW
MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD (PG-13) Russell Crowe lightens up a bit to play Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe), captain of the HMS Surprise as he matches wits with a bigger, faster French ship in this Napoleonic-era nautical adventure. Director Peter Weir stays faithful to the spirit of Patrick O'Brien's novel, one of a beloved series that elevates maritime procedure over swashbuckling plot. The film's impeccable approach to detail will appeal more to History Channel fans than the general movie-going audience, but it boasts exciting set-pieces and a colorful cast of character actors. --CH
MY LIFE WITHOUT ME (R) A struggling mother (Sarah Polley) with two small daughters and a devoted husband (Scott Speedman) learns she is dying of cancer and has two months to live. Spanish director Isabel Coixet has clearly studied at the foot of arty, poetic, woman-centered films like Jane Campion's, but has a harder time pulling off their combination of quirkiness and pathos. Coixet irritates with his mixture of pathos with eccentric touches, from Amanda Plummer as Ann's food-obsessed coworker to characters who suddenly break into dance at odd points in the film. --FF
PARTY MONSTER (NR) A frenetic, often uneven biopic of New York promoter Michael Alig (Macaulay Culkin), who with muse James St. James (Seth Green) helped define the Club Kid subculture of the early '90s but squanders his gains in the drug-induced murder of his dealer. Heavy on style, and seemingly tripping on its self-conscious rendition of a particular aesthetic, the film works as a fashion show but fails as a time capsule. --TB
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